Four years ago Chris Archer walked onto the San Carlos Airport (SQL) in northern California with the intent of becoming a pilot.
The first step was to find a flight school. It was almost an overwhelming task, he recalled. “I drove up to the airport and there were all these flight schools,” he said. “I walked into all of them and grabbed a rate sheet. Here I was a novice, not even a student pilot yet, looking at prices and aircraft features and trying to figure out what would work for me.”
There’s no shortage of places to rent aircraft in the San Francisco Bay area, Archer said, which meant that gathering information from all the local airports took a lot of time and energy. There had to be an easier way, he thought. Out of his need, an inspiration was born: Create a website that serves as a clearinghouse for rental information.
“I figured if I could get all of this data into one place that I could help the next person down the line,” he recalled.
The “one place” is ArcherBravo.com.
“I started building it in July of 2005 in my spare time,” the 200-hour pilot explains. “I focused on the states with the greatest pilot populations first. My first goal was to collect all the data from California, then I expanded it to Arizona and then other states as well. I’ve been gathering information on aircraft rentals — their hourly rates, cockpit features, etc. I’ve compiled all of this rich information into an easy-to-use search engine at ArcherBravo.com. This tool helps pilots find the planes they want, with the features they need, in the areas where they want to fly.”
Archer’s background is in the broadcasting industry, so he hired someone with more Internet expertise to polish the site before it went live in January 2006.
There is no charge for access to the site and users do not have to register if they don’t want to, said Archer, realizing that some people are skittish about websites that require you to provide an email address and password.
“I want people to be comfortable using this site,” he explained. “If they do register and there is an update in information that they have been looking for, like a new aircraft or a price change, they will be emailed about the change. These are called ‘bravo alerts.’ That’s the real power of the website.”
Archer, who now makes his home in Honolulu, regularly updates the website. “All it takes is email,” he said, “and pilots. I need pilots to use the site and see something that they want to update, like a price change or new aircraft coming on line, and email me about it.”